Forty-four-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin “The Monster” Randleman has passed away due to complications from pneumonia. The Las Vegas resident and former “Hammer House” fighter was admitted to a San Diego hospital this week but according to reports suffered heart failure on Thursday while being treated at the facility.
Randleman began his pro MMA career in Brazil in 1996 after his wrestling coach at Ohio State, Mark Coleman, got him a fight at Universal Vale Tudo 4. “The Monster” won three fights in one night and defeated Dan Bobish in the finals to win the tournament. And the rest is history as they say.
In his UFC debut Randleman defeated Maurice Smith via unanimous decision at UFC 19 in March 1999. Two fights and a few months later he won the vacant heavyweight title against Pete Williams at UFC 23, then successfully defended it against Pedro Rizzo the next Summer.
The Sandusky, Ohio native fought several years under the Pride FC banner in Japan before competing in World Victory Road and Strikeforce near the tail-end of his career. His Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix 2004 knockout of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is still viewed as one of the greatest upsets of all time. And what old school MMA fan can ever forget his epic slam of Fedor Emelianenko?
Rest in peace Kevin “The Monster” Randleman. Your impact on the sport of wrestling and your pioneering efforts in the sport of mixed martial arts will not be forgotten.
Kevin is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and four children.
Take a look back at this clip from our interview with Kevin from 2012 when we caught up with him at an RFA event in Las Vegas. He had made some lifestyle changes, was talking about making a comeback, then went on this epic rant about fighters making excuses after they lose and offered advice to the young up-and-comers.